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Bishop defender of the faith resigns
"A terrible blow, not just for the Church of England but for Britain"
In the context of the increasing attacks on Christians and the Christian faith in the UK, one columnist has described the resignation of Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali from his post as Bishop of Rochester as 'a terrible blow, not just for the Church of England but for Britain’.
Dr. Nazir-Ali, who received death threats after claiming that parts of Britain had become '"no-go areas" for non-Muslims, intends to work “where the church is under pressure” after stepping down a decade early from his present position.
As the church’s first non-white diocesan bishop, Nazir-Ali, 59, is a Bible-believing Christian who has rarely shied away from controversy.
In February last year the outspoken bishop, whose father converted to Christianity in Pakistan, was placed under police protection after his “no-go” comments. He has also been quoted as claiming that the church is not doing enough to convert Muslims to Christianity. Last month Nazir-Ali suggested that Christianity was being further sidelined by a “secularist agenda”. This view seems to be supported by a series of recent incidents involving Christians in a variety of public roles - including the case of the school receptionist who was suspended because she asked for prayer. And the recent news of the National Secular Society’s attempt to have hospital chaplaincy funding withdrawn arrives on the top of the BBC’s appointment of a Sikh as Executive Producer at the corporation’s Religion & Ethics Department in Manchester.
Commenting on Dr. Nazir-Ali’s resignation, columnist Melanie Philips has written that the bishop's:
‘strong voice of protest has never been needed more than it is now. For Christianity in Britain is under attack from all sides.‘Last month, the bishop protested that the arrival in Britain of so many from other faiths had led to the closure of chapels, the retrenchment of Christian chaplaincy and the advent of a ‘doctrinaire multi-faithism’ — not through pressure from the incoming minorities, but from British secularists who wanted to destroy Christianity.‘That agenda is becoming ever more oppressive. Yesterday, it was revealed that a Christian council worker was suspended for encouraging a terminally ill woman to turn to God. He says he was also told it was inappropriate to ‘talk about God’ with a client and that he should not even say “God bless”.’
This follows the case of the nurse who was suspended for offering to pray for an elderly patient’s recovery, the Christian who lost her role on an adoption panel because she disapproved of gay adoption, and Christian adoption agencies which lost their public funding because they had the same approach.With multiculturalism discriminating in favour of all who challenge the established values of this country, it would appear that it is Christians who have become the oppressed minority.”
Although some commentators see the loss of the bishop as a blow to the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, others have pointed out that his interventions over the row over homosexual clergy in the Anglican Church have been seen as a direct challenge to the archbishop.
In a letter to clergy in his diocese, the bishop said: "I have decided that the time is now right for me to step down as Bishop of Rochester. I have valued my modest part in the life of the Church locally, nationally and globally. "We take this step of faith 'not knowing where we are going.”
Much of his new work will involve minority Christian groups in Pakistan - where he was born - and in the Middle East, but Nazir-Ali is thought to be keen to retain a domestic role in Britain as well.
Other recent incidents of Christians under attack: -
Registrar who refused to conduct gay weddings and
Christian foster mother struck off after Muslim girl converts to Christianity
Christians Together, 08/04/2009